Monday, March 24, 2008
No. 421: The "Chirping" Crickets
Band: Buddy Holly and the Crickets
Album: The "Chirping" Crickets
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: One of early rock and roll's first stars, Buddy Holly's slight Texas twang and easy combination of rockabilly, pop and R&B made for some classic early records.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Early rock and roll nearly always sounds primitive. The records were made in such a way that any production involved dubbing tons of vocals. I still don't understand that.
Best song: "Not Fade Away" is great.
Worst song: "An Empty Cup (And a Broken Date)" isn't all that good.
Is it awesome?: How about "wildly dated?"
This album game out 51 years ago, so to call it dated is probably an overly obvious assertion, but I still can't really get over how slightly produced early rock and roll -- pre-Phil Spector, I guess -- sounds to modern ears.
There are so many doo-wop style harmonies and such a thin guitar sound, it's hard for me to love the songs with more emotion. "Last Night," for example, is a doo-wop vocal number and would probably sound better with a more robust arrangement, but it sounds like the type of thing I'd hear in a Looney Tunes cartoon.
Certainly, Holly's use of the Bo Diddley beat in "Not Fade Away" is great and the song is one of early rock and roll's great hits. "Oh Boy!" is similarly rocking. "That'll Be The Day" is sorta prescient, but it's mostly overrated.
And so goes Holly's catalog. Some great songs, but a whole lot of backing vocals passing as production.